Jean-Pierre Melville began his superb filmmaking career with this powerful adaptation of an influential underground novel written during the Nazi occupation of France. An idealistic, naive German officer is assigned to the home of a middle-aged man and his grown niece; their response to his presence—their only form of resistance—is complete silence. Constructed with elegant minimalism and shot, by the legendary Henri Decaë, with hushed eloquence, Le silence de la mer is a fascinating tale of moral ambiguity that points the way toward Melville’s later films about resistance and the occupation (Léon Morin, Priest; Army of Shadows) yet remains a singularly eerie masterwork in its own right.

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